Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday, 2 May, clarified that there is no “roll back” of his allegations of corruption regarding Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Rafale deal, and that his position on this has nothing to do with his apology to the Supreme Court in the contempt case against him.
Speaking to NDTV’s Sreenivasan Jain at an election rally near Jaipur in Rajasthan, Gandhi said:
“There is no roll back. I attributed something to the Supreme Court and that is where I have applied an apology. There is absolutely no apology to Mr Modi or anybody else. ‘Chowkidar Chor Hai,’ if you want to hear it again.”
Gandhi admitted that he made a “genuine mistake” by attributing the phrase to the Supreme Court in the heat of the moment.
“I put words in the mouth of the Supreme Court, and frankly, I was wrong. So I apologise. But I am not apologising in the least for the slogan ‘Chowkidar Chor Hai,’ and for saying that the prime minister has stolen money and given it to Mr Anil Ambani. No way.”
You can watch the whole interview by NDTV here:
The president of the Congress party was responding to questions from Jain after reiterating his stand that the deal was corrupt and that it had been structured by the PM to benefit Anil Ambani.
Gandhi first pointed out that according to the Congress’ polling, 67 percent of people now believed that the Rafale deal was a scam. ‘It’s pretty clear that the idea that Narendra Modi is a crusader against corruption has been destroyed,” he said, “and the Congress party has actually been responsible for bringing to the front that idea... that Mr Narendra Modi is actually corrupt and helping the corrupt.”
When asked whether there was concrete proof of corruption, Gandhi pointed to the tax waiver by the French government to Anil Ambani, land given to Anil Ambani in Maharashtra, and the revelations in The Hindu that defence ministry officials had complained about the prime minister conducting “parallel negotiations” on the deal.
Jain pointed out that the article in The Hindu said the Prime Minister’s Office was involved in these negotiations, but Gandhi said they were one and the same thing.
Gandhi also said a Joint Parliamentary Committee would be able to establish whether these allegations could be proved, and repeated his demand for a JPC probe into the deal.
“I am saying and the rest of the country is saying that Mr Narendra Modi has given Mr Anil Ambani a contract. Mr Anil Ambani has no basis for being able to deliver that contract. He’s [Rs] 45,000 crore in debt, he’s almost gone to jail – he’s been kept out of jail by his brother. What conditions is he in to deliver this contract?” (sic)
Gandhi questioned why HAL, which had expertise in these kinds of contracts were taken off the deal, and also why a French president had said the contract was to go to Anil Ambani (presumably referencing comments by former French President Francois Hollande).
Gandhi will be submitting a fresh affidavit in the Supreme Court on Monday expressly apologising for his comment misattributing ‘Chowkidar Chor Hai’ to the Supreme Court on 10 April.
Gandhi had made the comment after the court’s interim order allowing secret documents revealed by The Hindu and other media publications to be used to support the review petitions filed against the court’s 14 December verdict on the Rafale deal. He has already submitted an affidavit to the court expressing regret for this, but his lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi agreed to submit a fresh one with an express apology after the judges expressed disapproval at the last hearing on 30 April.